Mississippi Justice Institute Director Aaron Rice has been named a recipient of the 2019 Buckley Award, given annually by America’s Future Foundation.

The Buckley Awards recognize “outstanding young professional conservatives for their above-and-beyond service to the conservative movement.” The award is in honor of William F. Buckley, who became a leader of the early conservative movement before the age of 30 by founding National Review in 1955 and hosting the public affairs television show, “Firing Line,” for 33 years. This is the only such award in the freedom movement that focuses on the achievements of liberty-minded young professionals.

Aaron Rice, Mississippi Justice Institute

“There is perhaps no honor greater for a young conservative than to receive an award in the name of William F. Buckley,” said Jon Pritchett, President and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. “He inspired a generation of conservative intellectuals to fight boldly for foundational beliefs. That is exactly what Aaron has done since he joined the movement, but it’s also what he has done all of his life.”



Aaron received the award for recognition of his work in helping to defeat the renewal of administrative forfeiture in the legislature this year. Administrative forfeiture previously allowed agents of the state to take property valued under $20,000 and forfeit it by merely obtaining a warrant and providing the individual with a notice. In order to get the property back, an individual was required to file a petition in court within 30 days and incur legal fees in order to contest the forfeiture and recover such assets.

But due in large part to Aaron’s thought leadership through state and national op-eds, television, and radio, the renewal died without receiving a vote in committee.

“I am honored to be able to bring this award to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, and its legal arm, the Mississippi Justice Institute,” said Rice. “Our work on administrative forfeiture was very much a team effort. I would not have been able to make any meaningful impact on my own. While I have the honor of receiving the Buckley Award, I consider it a team award to our entire organization, and the first we have been honored with. I could not be happier to be a part of that recognition for our great organization.”

“Aaron’s contributions to advancing the free society, to improving people’s lives and to working tirelessly against amazing odds in Mississippi has inspired all of us,” said Cindy Cerquitella, Executive Director of AFF. “Aaron’s work to secure the private property rights of Mississippi citizens, against the desire of so many in power is a true testament to his patriotism and commitment to the values of a free society.”

This is the first time the award has been presented to a state-based think tank that focuses exclusively on one state. Previous winners include Christina Sandefur of Goldwater Institute, Rob Bluey of Heritage Foundation, Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, and Jim Geraghty of National Review.

Click here to see the full list of award winners.